People with persistent Afib. How do you get... - AF Association

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People with persistent Afib. How do you get on with exercise?

joebob profile image

I used to have paroxysmal afib and never had a problem with exercise. I used to run quite often and over several years I completed a couple of half marathons and a full marathon (I don't mean it took several years to complete them!).

I started running again earlier this year but noticed that, even after a short run, I would feel stressed and my heart would be all over the place. I have since been diagnosed with persistent Afib and now find that even a brisk walk seems to heighten my Afib symptoms!!!

Does anyone with persistent Afib have any tips/advice?


28 Replies
Beancounter profile image

Hi joebob

All I can really say is take it easy, I can exercise but need to rest much more often and use a Heart Rate Monitor to ensure I do not send the heart rate too high. But yes get tired very quickly, although I don't actually get any worse symptoms, but do have to be reasonably careful.

Be well


Beancounter profile image

Hi joebob

All I can really say is take it easy, I can exercise but need to rest much more often and use a Heart Rate Monitor to ensure I do not send the heart rate too high. But yes get tired very quickly, although I don't actually get any worse symptoms, but do have to be reasonably careful.

Be well


I think they are referring to extreme exercise - this causes fibrosis in athletes and electrical signals can be transferred erratically more easily with fibrosis- if athletes stop activity he heart muscle reverts to normal. I think moderate exercise is good and important but as everyone says don't overdo it!

It's a shame as I really do miss going for a jog :-(

I'm not going to give up completely though. I'm definitely stating to feel some positive effects from the Amiodarone so I'm going to start doing some long walks and see how I cope. I don't think I have AF as bad as some describe on here, as I don't feel constantly tired etc.

I'm back on the treadmill but taking it easy and no running. Compared to last year when I could run quite easily for 20 mins I tried it the other day and was shocked to find I couldn't even jog for one minute let alone 20 mins!! My fitness is absolutely rock bottom at the moment :-( even after my PVIs my heart is not quite the same anymore...there is a definite difference...or perhaps I'm just getting old....

rosyG profile image
rosyG in reply to Loo61

I think it's just that your heart has to recover Loo- I could hardly walk up a slight hill for 3 months after my first really vigorous AF episode and I now can swim etc-

I have been in persistent AF since about May this year. EP -seen this week -is going to write to Cardio to suggest they put me on the treadmill to see how I fare......I walk about 2miles (flat) 3-4 days a week and can cycle too....easy pace...but I do get tired.....

He said it may give me confidence to exercise more!!! I will let you know the outcome, Joebob....don't forget we are all different.

Since being randomly diagnosed 2 years ago I have been in AF permanently.

I used to walk 1 -2 miles everyday but on diagnosis was prescribed 2.5 mg bisoprolol. This was reduced to 1.25mg after a few weeks. Even on this low dose I was out of breath and really struggled to go up a small incline. After 5 months, when I couldn't walk up hills - my legs just wouldn't go any further, I changed to Diltiazem. Now I walk around 4 -5 miles most days - often quite brisk. Maybe discuss a change of meds with your Doctor until you find one that suits you better.

Yes perm AF 12 years or more. Despite trying for many years to improve my fitness levels, through walking and gym reclining bikes I have never been able to improve my ability to either increase the distance or reduce the complete exhaustion I get after more than 40 mins of flat walking. If an incline of any order is included that reduces time by 70%.!!

(Bisop 2.5mg)

Age: 65

3 cardioversions none worked for more than 2 days.

On the subject of ablation, it is known that it is more difficult to revert perm AF to NSR, but I read now about newer techniques using robotics and contact force catheter, giving very good first time results.

Has anyone any more info on this in the UK? Is the technology used and approved for use here?

I had 24/7 AF so assume that what is meant by persistent. That was 10 years ago and I could hardly stand, let alone do any exercise. But my EP found drugs that worked great on me so I was back to being 95% normal. Then had an ablation after a couple of years which was successful, and was back to being 100% normal, cycling, hill walking, anything.



Omniscient1 profile image
Omniscient1 in reply to

Hi Koll, can I ask what medication you had? Are you now not in persistent AF?


in reply to Omniscient1

I don't know if "persistent" is a technical term, I know "permanent" can be a technical term. But whatever you call it, I had AF round the clock, all day, every day, so I assume that's what is meant by persistent? But I wasn't persistent for too long, a few months at a guess but it slowly built up to that.

Anyhow, I was tried on various drugs ending up with Propafenone (brand Arythmol) and it worked perfectly for me. But we're all different so not sure that tells you anything. Most people seem OK on Flecainide but I'm not, etc etc.


joebob profile image
joebob in reply to

I thought I was in persistent AF, but I have it 24/7 which, I only found our earlier, is classed add permanent AF.

There is a persistent AF though, but it's like the paroxysmal AF but sticks around for days/weeks before abating.

gerryatriq profile image
gerryatriq in reply to

100% ablation success after years of chronic AF (24/365) is known to be very difficult to achieve, esp after 1 ablation. Can you say who it was that performed it, and where was it done?

in reply to gerryatriq

Hi gerryatriq, I don't like quoting personal names on the internet. If you want to know specifically, send me a message.

My ablation was done by the QE Birmingham team. The EP said he was pretty confident that it would be successful because my AF was 24/7, so they would know straight away whether they had got it or not. He did say that there was a chance it might need repeating in 5-15 years time and it did, 10 years later. But they didn't actually ablate on the day because the AF had gone away and they couldn't even stimulate it, they were surprised by that. Still not got it now, two years on, just ectopics I think, not sure but it's very different.


in reply to gerryatriq

Ps. I wasn't in chronic AF for years, more like months.

Hi Jo, Just work back up very slowly... my experience was going too fast too quickly. And that wasn't even running! The advice I give my clients with physical training is: whatever your choice of exercise, at an easy pace and after 3 days with no adverse effects you can increase and then do the same 2-3 days without a negative effect. In this manner one is sure to not have just had a lucky day or a bad one but you have time tested results prior to increasing the exercise. I wish I took my own advice more often!

The frog jumping up two and falling back one can be an AF scenario if you go too fast.

Best wishes

I was told not to take him over 120 but at rest with persistant AF rest hrm is over 100. I was trying to get back on the track sprinting so really frustrating. Now anything get AF symptoms haywire.

However have a cardioversion next week so hopefully get something started.

I was told to start walking but not the same once you've worn a number

I have lone AF (persistant) and am not on any meds. I exercise weekly now, a 5K run - which will build to 10K in the next few months. I think you need to separate the AF from the effects of any meds you may be under. These are fitness runs. I cant 'race' now - which was probably the cause of my AF to start with.

joebob profile image
joebob in reply to Omniscient1

It was fitness jogging which I used to do earlier this year and I used to feel crap afterwards, that's how I date when I think my permanent AF began.

I wasn't diagnosed until June though so wasn't on any meds until after then.

Looks quite restrictive then?

Thanks ectopic. Mine was persistent.

I guess mine is persistent afterall then.

Sounds like the numbers game. In order to keep the success rate high, only patients with a likelihood of success (however they calculate success) are offered ablation.

I believe I have paroxysmal afib. Haven't seen doctor since my monitor was removed. Initial diagnosis was "some" afib. I was biking 48-64K twice a week and swimming 1 1/2 K three times a week before my angina. Since having stents put in and these afib episodes kicking in more and more I'm averaging maybe half that with occasional problems, if I'm lucky.Some days I can do just fine others it's a struggle to get past the first few minutes of exercise(bike or swim). I started to keep a journal to log down what happens and when. No consistent pattern that I can see. Only meds I'm on are blood thinners. Go to see the electrocardiologist in a few weeks for my official visit after the monitor. Until they tell me I can't I'm going to keep trying and do the best I can.

I was told on Friday by my EP that I am Persistent, pretty much like ectopic described in his earlier post. When I'm not in AF I exercise like I did before getting AF. I was also told I have LONE AF, so I have no other underlying medical issues, so when not in AF I will train as I did before. When in AF I have to take it easy, as I get very breathless, but my heart rate does not rocket to figures some other people have on this forum. My EP has placed me on the ablation list. I have been on Amiodarone, that caused me thyroid problems and Flecainide that doesn't work too well, so for me to have a chance of getting back to my previous fitness regime with little interruption he suggests I be ablated. The odds he quoted me being in the persistent form I am now is between 60 - 70%. I asked was this for first time success, but he said overall. The odds aren't as good as I first thought.

I have persistent/permanent afib. I take Magnesium Taurate. It helps with blood circulation and I feel much good when I exercise. I hit the gym regularly and run 20 to 35 miles per week and my afib does not bother at all. Matter of fact, I feel very good after each run. Hope you feel well and get back to your routines.

Hi Jo;

I think that intolerance to exercise induced AF not only varies with the person but also the activity. I gave up running some years ago as I could only alternate walking and jogging if AF kicked in. However, non-weight bearing exercise such as an indoor rowing machine isn't a problem. I have to watch my heart rate monitor and PM5 rowing machine monitor to limit effort if necessary to stop my heart rate getting above 180 bpm. That way a 12.2km row in 60 minutes isn't a problem. I wouldn't exercise on my own as I feel no different with my heart rate in the 190s, and my stroke in 2016 presented without any FAST symptoms (I wasn't exercising at the time). Over the years I've found it difficult to persuade clinicians that I had AF, as my ability to sustain high bpm was said to down to many years of running and cycling. I agree that over-training is just as likely if you do an enjoyable cardio exercise(s) as an ordinary person. I have a tendency to overtrain (overreach), so I now use a high end heart rate monitor that calculates my previous cardio and muscle load in comparison to my calculated ability to tolerate that strain. It's currently telling me that I overtrained yesterday, so no training today and tomorrow it's a group walk of six to seven miles.

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